Legion Leaves Biblical Truth Behind
- 2010 11 May
DVD Release Date: May 11, 2010
Theatrical Release Date: January 22, 2010
Rating: R (for strong bloody violence and language)
Run Time: 100 min.
Director: Scott Stewart
Actors: Paul Bettany, Lucas Black, Tyrese Gibson, Dennis Quaid, Adrianne Palicki, Charles S. Dutton, Kevin Durand, Jon Tenney, Willa Holland
In Legion, God gives up on mankind a second time, and sends his angels to destroy humanity. The unborn child of a lowly woman is said to be humanity's only hope, the one who will lead us out of darkness. And the contest between good angels and fallen angels is set at a remote diner called Paradise Falls.
The film has elements of the first coming of Christ and an apocalypse suggesting the second coming, dressed up in all sorts of religious terminology that might make viewers who don't know any better believe they're watching a Bible-based film.
Legion is nothing of the sort. It's a mess—and it can't be saved.
Paul Bettany stars as Michael—yes, the archangel—who shows up on earth December 23, cuts off his wings and drives to the Paradise Falls diner. His trunk is filled with guns, and he's ready for a fight. His mission: To protect Charlie (Adrianne Palicki), or more specifically, Charlie's unborn child, who holds the hope for humanity's future. The baby's due date isn't until the new year, but Michael says the child will arrive on … oh, nevermind. Not significant.
As Michael explains to the diner's employees and patrons, God has tired of humanity. He once wiped us out with a flood; this time he's sent his angels, who take possession of weak-willed humans and set out to destroy the earth, per God's orders. Michael isn't on the same page as God. He wants to save humankind rather than destroy it. Teaming with Michael to prevent God's plan of destruction are Bob (Dennis Quaid), Jeep (Lucas Black), Kyle (Tyrese Gibson) and Percy (Charles S. Dutton). On God's side: the angel Gabriel, who shows up to fight with Michael and cut down anyone interested in preserving life rather than ending it.
Legion has no precise parallel to Scripture, but those who go into it without biblical knowledge might be fooled into thinking that it does. Still, one might wonder if the story works as a fun "B" movie. No again. The script is a disaster. A child is said to be humanity's only hope, but this is not explained. (There's a lot more Terminator here than The Nativity Story, but even that's misleading. Terminator was a fantastic film; Legion is anything but.) The revelation God has already given mankind isn't mentioned beyond a reference to the flood and an allusion to the plagues of Exodus—no Jesus, no salvation, no Spirit, no continuing hope in the midst of trial. It's as if the first coming of Christ never took place.
There are gun battles and a few major explosions, but the special effects involving human possession are a joke. These possessed individuals have short fangs that are supposed to be menacing, but are more ripe for a Mystery Science Theater 3,000 commentary track. Gabriel uses his wings as weapons, but the peace-loving Michael chooses to arm himself to the teeth with guns instead.
The film does have one frightening scene involving a foul-mouthed granny who predicts that everyone will "burn," then rips into one of the diner's patrons. But the scene has been included in the film's ads and preview, muting its effectiveness for many in the audience.
Christian moviegoers have longed for films that embrace biblical themes, but the studios have exploited that desire more often than they've served it. Remember pseudo-spiritual dramas like the Kevin Costner film Dragonfly, or the underwhelming blockbuster Superman Returns and the few religious crumbs in its script? Even a film like The Book of Eli, which emphasizes the importance of the Bible, requires discretion on the part of Christian filmgoers, who must absorb a large dose of violence while taking in that film's more positive aspects.
Legion isn't in the same category as even the more suspect of those films. It doesn't just co-opt biblical ideas but turns them on their head. It's all rather perverse and best avoided.
Questions? Comments? Contact the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Language/Profanity: Lots of foul language and profanity; several instance of the "f"-word; police officers use dehumanizing language to refer to citizens, and imagine a "good old boy barbecue"; an angry waitress refers to a customer as a "f-cking Jesus freak."
- Smoking/Drinking/Drugs: A sarcastic, crude reference to "being double-teamed by meth heads," but nothing shown along those lines; a pregnant woman smokes and drinks, as do others, including a man who says he no longer drinks.
- Sex/Nudity: Low angle shot of young girl in a miniskirt and a reference to her "showing her a--"; an out-of-wedlock pregnancy and birth; the mother-to-be says she originally didn't want the baby and went to an abortion clinic, but didn't go through with it.
- Violence/Crime: An angel cuts off his wings and bleeds; a bare-chested, bleeding man stitches his wounds; guns are loaded, pointed at heads, fired at men and angels; possessed people thrash about, shape-shift and threaten humans verbally and physically; a woman rips flesh from a man's neck; a man's back is torn open and shown exposed; a father and young boy are attacked by possessed beings; explosions and property destruction.
- Marriage: A mention of Bob's ex-wife.
- Religion: A quote from Psalms 34:11 opens the movie; discussion of a woman who stopped quoting the Bible and who believe God gave up on humanity; a Bible believing man says, "Somebody's gotta start praying!"; God is said to have lost faith in man again; a man says, "I don't believe in God," and an angel says, "He doesn't believe in you either"; a woman's unborn child is said to be humanity's only hope, who will lead people out of darkness; men are said to kill each other over "words in old books"; an angel says that being spiritually lost means you're close to being found; Michael and Gabriel battle; a man hangs on an upside-down cross, with blisters and boils all over him and then bursts apart.